April 7, 2000

"Honor killings" of women said on rise worldwide

                   GENEVA (Reuters) -- More and more women and girls are being slain in "honor
                   killings" around the world, a U.N. human rights investigator said Friday.

                   Asma Jahangir, a prominent Pakistani lawyer and activist who serves as U.N.
                   rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, called for
                   governments to prosecute the killers, usually relative of their victims.

                   Honor killings, in which women are slain for perceived violations of a family's
                   moral code, have been reported in Bangladesh, Britain, Brazil, Ecuador, Egypt,
                   India, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Pakistan, Morocco, Sweden, Turkey and Uganda,
                   according to her annual report presented to the U.N. Commission on Human

                   "The perpetrators of these crimes are mostly male family members of the
                   murdered women who go unpunished or receive reduced sentences on the
                   justification of having murdered to defend their misconceived notion of 'family
                   honor,' " Jahangir said.

                   "The practice of 'honor killings' is more prevalent although not limited to
                   countries where the majority of the population is Muslim," she said in a 37-page

                   But renowned Islamic leaders and scholars have condemned the practice and
                   said that it has no religious basis, she said.

                   On the order of clerics, an 18-year-old woman was flogged to death in Batsail,
                   Bangladesh for "immoral" behavior, according to her report. In Egypt, a father
                   paraded his daughter's severed head through the streets shouting: "I avenged my

                   "It is reported that in Pakistan around 300 women are killed every year for
                   crimes of 'honor'," said Jahangir, who is also chairwoman of Pakistan's national
                   human rights commission. "Only a handful of the perpetrators are arrested and
                   most of these criminals receive only token punishment.

                   Jahangir said she was working closely with U.N. special investigators on
                   violence against women and on the independence of judges and lawyers to
                   address incidents of honor killings.